Thankful for Recovery: The Journey, and Reaching the Destination

Thanksgiving 2010 I was so concerned about having enough “safe” foods at dinner, Thanksgiving 2011 I was eating my own separate “raw food diet” foods, Thanksgiving 2012 I was bingeing on pie in my bedroom.

Thanksgiving 2017 finds me excited to eat, happy, full, content, very few worries around food, and looking forward to the rest of the holidays to come. Eating disorder recovery was confusing and tough, but so worth it.

So what happened between 2013-2017?

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Set Me Free: Reflecting on November 1, 2013

November 1st, 2013 was the answer I received to the above journal prayer–in the form of a broken kneecap, cracked in half during a running workout. The fractured bone was a representation of my fractured relationship with running and my body, a physical manifestation of my emotional pain.

It was the most challenging, painful, confusing days of my life. I fought between the Rachael who was distraught about not being able to run, with the Rachael who noticed this feeling of relief–relief to stop racing toward the impossible standards she set for herself, relief from the pressure of eating “perfectly” for running. I saw the Rachael who was exhausted and needed to lie down, and it wasn’t until this circumstance that she finally felt she could.

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Interview with National Champ Erin Herrmann: Speaking Up About Eating Disorders

I had the privilege of interviewing National Champion for the 3000m Steeplechase from Hope College Erin Herrmann, who came out about her eating disorder in May. She shares her story & advice for others who may be struggling in the video interview below! Biggest tip? TALK ABOUT IT.

Will be posting more YouTube videos SOON, so be sure to subscribe!

“Trust in the love of the people you are surrounded by. They will help you see what you need to see in yourself.”

Order your copy of Running in Silence: My Drive for Perfection and the Eating Disorder That Fed It here.

The Chin-Up Podcast: Eating Disorders in Running

I first connected with Amber Sayer (author, exercise psychologist, and certified personal trainer) years ago when I read her memoir PR: A Personal Record of Running From Anorexia. It was one of the first eating disorder running memoirs I had read so I appreciated that it was a new angle, and that I could relate so much. I recommend you check it out, along with Amber’s blog at ProcessingProblems.com.

Recently Amber invited me onto her new podcast, The Chin-Up Podcast, where we talked about eating disorders in runners, recovery, writing, and approaches for coaches for athletes with eating disorders. Check out the link below (photo) for this podcast along with the others she will post in the future!

Order your copy of Running in Silence: My Drive for Perfection and the Eating Disorder That Fed It here.

[Dumpster] Diving Into Male Eating Disorders: Matt’s Story & Recovery

Several years after I graduated from my high school, and well into recovering from my eating disorder, I heard about a guy running cross country at my high school who had developed anorexia. From afar I yearned to help him, but not knowing exactly who he was and feeling I would overstep boundaries (a random woman who wanted to help this guy because she experienced something similar?!), I stayed distant and heard he was getting the help he deserved.

Little did I know that around that time Matt had found my Running in Silence website, and knew as little about me as I had known about him (he didn’t even realize until later that we had gone to the same high school!). I eventually found Matt’s incredible recovery story online through the Daily Mail and finally had a face. Soon after, we found each other through social media, and participated in an event during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He agreed to connect further through the interviews I recorded with him below.

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Life-Saving Imperfection

After another dose of editing Running in Silence, I’ve set aside my book yet again, hoping I won’t have to go back to it too much more now. The staff at Koehler Books get to handle it at this point, which is a relief because I have to let them take it away from me so I stop trying to find more to “fix.” But as my editor Dean Robertson said, “Remember: the book is about recovering from the quest for perfection.”

So I have to stop trying to make the book “perfect.” I figure that if anyone finds fault with it, I’ll just tell them that those imperfections are because the book is exactly that–imperfect! It was my intention all along. :)

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Building Happiness On Stable Ground

Last night I had a dream (nightmare?) that there were people out to murder me.

For reasons I cannot explain, I wasn’t too scared about this predicament. I was only sad about how little time I got to enjoy this “reborn” Rachael–the Rachael who is the happiest she’s ever been in her life.

Ever since this dream/nightmare last night, I began to contemplate what feels different about my happiness this past year compared to my happiness in 2010 when I claimed it as “the best year of my life.” It was a year of personal cross country and track records, school records, and immense joy while running.

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A Runner’s Life Without Running in Eating Disorder Recovery

I still love to run. I often think about how fast I used to be–how wonderful it felt to float across the ground, how much I enjoyed the freedom, how excited I felt to race, what a joy it was to help out my teammates while racing. I know I just can’t go back to it for a while. Even when I do try interval training once in a while or simply go for a run, if I know the distance or time I get down on myself, or get so competitive that I think about how I could restrict again or purge and how good it would feel to reach the top.

Whenever these thoughts flood back into my mind, I remind myself of where I am in my life: happy and fulfilled at last. As much as running adds happiness to my life, it also has an element of madness, and I do very well without running, as I’ve come to find out.

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“Please Notice When You Are Happy”

Reflecting on this past year (as today is my 24th birthday), I realize 23 has been very good to me.

This is not to say everything was perfect, but it was the fastest I have developed as a person and the best I’ve felt in my own body and mind because I continually stepped out of my comfort zone.

life1

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The Difference Between Solitude and Loneliness

In the midst of a fall and winter of bingeing, it seemed as if all hope had disappeared from my life. All I could see ahead of me was losing myself more and more to the eating disorder. I was far from wanting to commit suicide, but looking at the dark wall ahead of me made me wonder if there was anything worth living for anymore. I knew I was blessed with so much in my life, but the black pit of grief and confusion kept me trapped in a mind and body I hated.

At a loss as to what to do for me, my friends suggested I learn to sit with myself–to find strength in solitude. Unfortunately this sounded like the worst solution, because at that point in my eating disorder being alone was the darkest part of my day.

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